The first three weeks of the Dallas Cowboys season have gone as good as anyone could have hoped. Dallas is 3-0 heading into their Week 4 match-up with New Orleans, and their first three victories have not been close. Last week the Cowboys took on the lowly Miami Dolphins, but got off to another slow start.
Dallas led just 10-6 heading into halftime, and overall did not look impressive as a team. That all changed in the second half as the Cowboys dominated the Dolphins, outscoring them 21-0 en route to the victory.
Dallas dominated the game on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 125 yards on 19 carries, and rookie Tony Pollard added 103 yards on 13 rushes and a touchdown. Dak Prescott went 19 of 32 for 246 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Amari Cooper led all Cowboys’ receivers with six catches for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
After struggling in the first half, the Dallas defense turned it on in the third and fourth quarters. Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence both added sacks in the second half as Dallas registered constant pressure on Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen.
This week everything changes for the Cowboys as they face their first real test of the 2019 season, traveling to New Orleans to take on the Saints. Minus Drew Brees, New Orleans went into Seattle last Sunday and dominated the Seahawks. Teddy Bridgewater had an okay day, going 19 of 27 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, although the box score makes his day seem a little better than it was, but Alvin Kamara was the difference in the game by racking up 161 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
Despite the game finishing with a final of 33-27, it was never really that close. New Orleans led the game 27-7 heading into the fourth quarter, and until giving up 20 in the fourth their defense had dominated all day.
Sunday night in New Orleans is going to be a real test of what the 2019 Dallas Cowboys are made of. Here are three predictions for this big-time match-up.
1. Alvin Kamara records over 150 yards of total offense
If the Dallas Cowboys want to win this game, they have to stop Alvin Kamara, plain and simple. Last season when the Cowboys defeated the Saints 13-10 in late November, they held Kamara to an extremely impressive 72 yards of total offense and no touchdowns. Jourdan Lewis played a big role in this success, being used to cover Kamara for most of the game.
#DallasCowboys CB Jourdan Lewis again subbing in to cover Alvin Kamara on passing down and making play— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) November 30, 2018
Huge staple of #Saints passing game is passes underneath to RBs in mismatches that turn into run after catch 1st downs (Saints 8th in league in RAC avg)#coachingmatters pic.twitter.com/TqGKv9e0vc
Without Drew Brees on the field, the Saints will have to rely on Kamara even more to carry their offense. Last weekend in Seattle they did exactly that, and he had one of his biggest days of his NFL career to date. The former Tennessee Volunteer has recorded over 150 total yards of offense in two of the Saints three first games, and Sunday he will accomplish this feat again.
So far the Cowboys have not been able to generate much pressure on opposing quarterbacks in their first three games, except for the second half against Miami. This trend will continue on Sunday, and it will allow Bridgewater to be comfortable enough to target Kamara in the passing game. Although some believe Kamara is more of just a gadget guy. he showed last week he can be a powerful downhill runner as well.
Things I liked from Week 3: John Harbaugh's analytical approach, the aggressiveness of Andy Reid and Frank Reich, Dalvin Cook's 15-yard run, Alvin Kamara dragging Jadeveon Clowney, Jaire Alexander's forced fumble, the magic of Deshaun Watson and more.https://t.co/qxZ1NAhJAZ pic.twitter.com/bnfrS97kgb— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) September 25, 2019
The Dallas defense is going to face a huge test Sunday, and stopping Alvin Kamara is one that they will fail. He is going to have a huge day especially on the ground.
2. Amari Cooper racks up 100 plus yards reviving and a touchdown
The New Orleans Saints have allowed a 100-yard receiver in all three of their games this season. That trend will continue on Sunday courtesy of Amari Cooper.
Last week, Cooper went up against Pro-Bowl corner Xavien Howard most of the game, and still had an outstanding day. Cooper caught six balls for 88 yards to go with two big touchdowns.
This week, Cooper gets to go up against a Saints secondary which has really struggled. Three former Ohio State Buckeyes starts in the Saints secondary. Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore,and Von Bell. All in all, the Saints passing defense has just been dreadful to start the season. They are allowing 301.7 passing yards per game through the first three games of the season. That ranks 29th in the NFL. Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, and Deandre Hopkins all have gone over 100 yards vs. the Saints this season. So the narrative is fairly simple. When they face a talented wide out, they can’t stop him.
Dallas is going to have lots of success in the passing game Sunday, and Amari Cooper will be a large part of that. Look for Prescott to target Cooper early and often in this game.
3. The Dallas offense plays great, but the defense can’t stop New Orleans, leading to a 31-30 defeat
The Cowboys’ offense is going to have a big day Sunday against the Saints. The Saints currently allow 27.3 points per game to go with 436 yards of total offense a game, both among the top 10 worst in all of the NFL. Dak Prescott will have a field day picking the Saints’ secondary apart, and Ezekiel Elliott will rush for over 100 yards for the fourth game in a row. As long as the Dallas offensive line is able to block the Saints upfront, they will have a huge day on the offensive side of the ball.
The defense will be another story. Largely it has been an unimpressive start for the Cowboys’ defense through three games this season. The biggest problem for Dallas has been a lack of a pass rush, and that will ultimately be their downfall Sunday night. If the Cowboys are unable to get pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, he has enough weapons in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to really hurt the Dallas’ defense.
The Dallas defense will be unable to contain Kamara like they did last November, and he will be the key piece in New Orleans handing the Cowboys their first loss of the 2019 season.